An update on the university's efforts to address alcohol and other drug use among students
Student Affairs describes collaborative efforts to mitigate high-risk behavior.
We are writing today to report back on significant progress with efforts to improve student health and wellness with respect to alcohol and other drug use, and to invite student involvement in and commitment to this work. In previous messages (links here, here, and here) to the student community, we shared great concern about high-risk behaviors, as evidenced in recent student survey data revealing patterns of heavy alcohol and drug use. We noted the risks this poses to young adult brain development, as well as concerns about the number of students requiring emergency medical care after using alcohol and other drugs.
Summary of recent history
In 2019, Provost Drell appointed the Alcohol Solutions Group to work with the Law and Policy Lab at Stanford Law School in collecting data, studying the issues and gathering feedback. Over 1,000 students participated through surveys, focus groups and town hall meetings. Since that time, and through the pandemic, students and staff have been collaborating in over two dozen working groups to bring to life recommendations from the Alcohol Solutions Group and Law and Policy Lab. These distinct but interconnected projects lay the groundwork for a critical opportunity to create a safer and healthier environment beginning this fall. At the same time, we will continue popular and impactful programs like Cardinal Nights and 5-SURE on Foot, which provide support for many students.
New opportunities and programs
Below, you will find a short summary of the current student and staff working group plans under development. There are many opportunities for ongoing student involvement. In the coming months, we will be providing more information on how to join in.
- RAs in undergraduate dorms will:
- receive enhanced training to support them in their roles as they help residential students navigate their personal development and responsible decisions, as well as disrupt unhealthy campus norms.
- have access to financial and programmatic support to offer weekend substance-free events in dorms across campus.
- The Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) Working Groups are examining the intersection of substance use and Greek life on campus and will make recommendations for systemic change for Greek organizations to contribute to a healthy campus, including harm reduction and education regarding alcohol and other drugs.
- The Office of Alcohol Policy and Education (OAPE) is expanding its outreach efforts to:
- offer robust alcohol and drug education programming in frosh dorms.
- extend outreach efforts to students across the four years of their undergraduate education.
- introduce a new Peer Educators program to offer local programming and education support in each of the new ResX neighborhoods.
- The Well House, a newly-designated residential learning community, will welcome residents in fall 2021. This new theme house will provide substance-free and wellness living on the Row for 51 undergraduate students with the oversight of a Resident Fellow and will provide community-wide substance-free programming and resources for all students.
- Stanford will foster and create a chapter of the national Collegiate Recovery Program (CRP) in fall 2021 to offer comprehensive and holistic support for students who belong or seek to belong to the substance recovery community.
- Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) will hire two new counselors specifically trained in the treatment of substance use disorders. In addition to offering direct clinical support for students, these counselors will offer outreach and education support for the Well House and the CRP community.
- Recognizing that our community extends beyond campus, we will invite Stanford parents and families to offer feedback on the alcohol and drug norms and challenges that their students face along with the opportunity to be informed partners during their students’ college experience.
- A new, streamlined system for party and event planning for student organizations will be developed and piloted via CardinalEngage.
Policy and accountability
In addition to the actions described above, we are working on an updated student alcohol and other drug policy and accountability framework that will clearly articulate state and federal legal requirements we must follow and the corresponding accountability processes to ensure a safer campus. We would like to thank the many students who provided specific feedback to the Alcohol Solutions Group on the very sensitive and important topics of policy and accountability. We heard you when you said the following, summarized here as ASG recommendations:
- Clearly defined expectations for intervention, referral, and reporting.
- Accountability for all students and student groups that is equitable, transparent, and enforceable.
- A culture of care that also includes the role of individual and community (student organization, residence hall, team, etc.) accountability.
We are committed to implementing these student-informed recommendations. Many of you shared that you would like to be involved in next steps. We need and welcome your feedback and ideas on alcohol and other drug education and misuse prevention. The Dean of Students Office will be in touch soon with student leaders and campus partners to refine an accountability framework for students and student communities, with the goal of implementing this new framework at the start of the upcoming academic year.
A new, healthier normal
In closing, where we go from here depends on all of us. While there are many aspects of student life that we all yearn to resume, we think it is safe to say all of us would like to discontinue the normalization of high-risk alcohol and drug use on our campus. The danger is clear, the price far too high, and the alternatives are within reach. We also know that all will agree that continuing to enhance safe, healthy social life is integral to this project. We would like to thank everyone who has been engaged in our collective efforts to change the environment — with alternative social venues like the Arbor, for example — or who have participated in the many work and focus groups that collaborated with the Alcohol Solutions Group and the Law and Policy Lab.
We are deeply optimistic that together, we are on the brink of something new for Stanford and our student community. The timing is excellent as the entire university plans for the resumption of an in-person experience this fall, including a vibrant undergraduate residential community and the immense activity and joy generated by our many student groups and organizations. We will need to allow ourselves to learn as we go with our updated approach to alcohol and other drugs, and we are committed to continuing to seek your feedback.
Vice Provost of Student Affairs
Emelyn dela Peña
Associate Vice Provost for Inclusion, Community & Integrative Learning
Senior Associate Vice Provost and Dean of Students
Dr. Jim Jacobs
Associate Vice Provost and Executive Director, Vaden Health Services